Look out, Tinder – you’re about to be hit with a giant batch of middle-aged, utterly clueless faces.
With January the peak time for divorces, they are back on the market, dipping their toes, and swiping their thumbs, into the world of online dating.
And whether we like it or not, traditional romance is dead.
Back when online dating started, there was a stigma attached – you had to be pretty sad and lonely to not meet someone the “normal way”. But now it is the norm. One in five relationships starts online, and there are seven million Brits registered on dating sites.
They’ve got their own language. Ghosting – when your beloved disappears and ignores your messages. And “benching”, when you are kept in someone’s circle of dates but won’t commit.
And now there’s “negging”, the practice of making slightly insulting comments to someone you find attractive in order to make them take an interest in you.
A friend of mine, who’s in her 50s, is suddenly having to navigate this scary new place.
She split from her long-term partner over Christmas and was used to being wooed the old-fashioned, face-to-face way. Not seeing pictures of their privates before pecking them on the cheek.
She admits she hasn’t got a clue about what to say, do or ask.
She’s never had to swipe in any direction, stress over the perfect profile picture or try to boil her personality and life down to a sentence.
She has chatted to some men, and met up with one, who sounded fantastic on their WhatsApp chats. But when she plucked up the courage to meet him for a drink (sending me her location in case he was a mad, axe-wielding murderer), she discovered he was a bit dull.
I told her it’s a numbers game and to get straight back into it. Next!
Because there are many success stories – another friend of mine met her boyfriend online a decade ago, and they’re still going strong.
But it is even harder to find The One online if you’re not white.
Ethnic minorities are far less likely to find a dream match. Black women statistically rank as the least attractive among men, receiving fewer matches and responses.
Ben Arogundade, author of My Terrifying, Shocking, Humiliating, Amazing Adventures In Online Dating, found himself single at 54 so threw himself into the scene. All the apps: Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish. But as a black man, he was targeted by middle-aged white women after “something different”.
He had to interpret clues and hidden messages within their words and images. He was stood up, verbally abused, propositioned for sex and asked to be a surrogate dad.
The most badly behaved were the older, divorced singles of his generation. So middle-aged divorcées could save themselves a load of stress by leaving the apps well alone.
But when have we ever been sensible when it comes to love?